If you are planning to party in Mumbai then make sure your arms are covered. If you are a woman you may raise some eyebrows, however, if you are a man you will be denied entry to the venues. On Sunday, fitness trainer Omkar Sharma was denied entry to Bombay Rasta due to his sleeveless tank top. “The guards stopped me because I wasn’t dressed properly,” he says.
Just this month, 28-year-old Suraj Nambudiri was denied entry to 145 Kala Ghoda due to his sleeveless top. Namboodiri’s outfit was called ‘indecent’ by the venue and he was only allowed in after his friend gave him a blazer. “They warned me that if I removed the blazer inside the club, I would be asked to leave. After we got in, I removed the blazer because it was too hot, and the bouncer asked us to leave. We didn’t cause any ruckus at the party,” says fitness instructor Nambodiri.
Mikhail Kazi, 26, had a similar experience at the same place: “They stopped me from entering because I was wearing a sleeveless tank top. However, my friend was allowed in even though she was sleeveless with spaghetti straps. When we tried to debate their sexism, they said it didn’t matter and that dressing “decent” was part of their policy.”
When we contacted Ishaan Bahl, the owner of 145, he accepted the dress code. “Like hundreds of restaurants and bars across Mumbai, we have a strict dress code policy for our guests, keeping it just to maintain the formality of the venue and the feel-good factor once you enter any of our locations,” he explains. .
However, 145 is not the only place in Mumbai with such an archaic dress code. Sanky Evras, 31, a celebrity hairstylist by profession, says this is quite common in Mumbai as he has faced similar experiences in many other places. “I have encountered this not only at 145, but also at other bars like BSE, Olive. I have been refused entries because I am wearing a sleeveless top. No offense, no matter how dull a girl’s outfit is, their (venue’s) dress code will never discriminate against them. We talk a lot about equality, but even in 2023 we are not allowed to express ourselves,” shared Evras.
Many outlets in the city have written on their websites that men in sleeveless shirts will not be allowed. Shiro, Prive, Bora Bora, Opa are some such places. “We are not strict and do not stop anyone from entering our outlet, even if they are wearing sleeveless clothing. If it is fashion driven or appropriate attire, we allow it. One weakness in communication is people coming in basic tanks and sleeveless gym wear for restaurants. Not appropriate attire,” says Karamvir Singh Gandhi, director of operations at Opa! Bar and Cafe. Shiro chose not to comment on his stance.
Jenamani Soumitri Kumar Ray, General Manager, Pablo Restaurant & Lounge, Navi Mumbai, says, “It purely depends on the perception of how one wants to maintain the decor of the place. For a casual cafe, an all-day dining or an all-day bistro, these things don’t matter. While If the restaurant is in a truly premium position, such as a fine dining restaurant, a dress code is necessary to maintain the decorum and atmosphere of such a place.” There is no no-sleeves rule in his restaurant,” he explains, “Usually a restaurant used to be only for the rich, but the situation has changed drastically over the decades. Some rules are relevant to a particular time, which become irrelevant when trends change. This rule is purely a victim of not changing with time and believing in old meaningless traditions and rules.
In 2020, hairstylist Elton Steve Vesokar posted a picture of her from BSE Bandra where she was denied entry to the venue. At that time, BSE founder Mihir Desai told a portal, “To maintain cleanliness and maintain dress code, we generally do not allow any men to wear sleeveless… A man does not go to office wearing sleeveless. So it is a matter of basic hygiene that the people living around will not be comfortable, so it is on that basis. ”
When we contacted Desai in 2023, the stance had changed: “We allow sleeveless. Sometimes people at the gate are not dressed properly, the manager takes a call at the gate.
This gives one hope that restaurants are open to turning over new leaves and becoming more accepting. “145 has not discriminated against its visitors, and never will. We are looking to enhance the rules with a further 2023 approach,” Bahl promised.